Kosuke Fukudome

For an Opening Day loss to a bitter in-division rival in which our ace had to leave the game prematurely, our leadoff man looked overmatched, and our new closer was tagged for three runs in an inning, that was a pretty satisfying game. All the credit goes to you, Kosuke. Thanks.

But former and perhaps future Cubs had a hand in games all across the land, and there were other Cub connections evident on this, the true Opening Day 2008.

Here is a Cub-flavored summary of today's already completed games:


D-Backs 4, Reds 2
.
Dusty loses his first game in the Cincy dugout. Corey Patterson goes
0-for-4, but doesn't strike out. Not once. In the whole game.


Nats 11, Phillies 6
.
Following their one-game home series against the Braves, the Nationals
traveled to Philadelphia to play the Phils. I can't find any way to
connect this game to the Cubs, except for the fact that scheduling a
Cubs-Brewers game in Chicago in late March when there's a perfectly
adequate domed stadium 90 miles north of Chicago is asinine...much like
scheduling the Nationals for a one-game home stand and then sending
them on the road.

It's back to Cactus League play as the Cubs host the Royals at HoHoKam Tuesday afternoon at 3:05 Central.

Kosuke Fukudome will see some familiar faces in new Royals manager Trey Hillman, who managed the past five seasons in Japan, and righthander Yasuhiko Yabuta, who pitched the last 12 seasons for Chiba Lotte. Yabuta has given up 14 hits and 8 earned runs in 7 innings pitched and Fukudome is hitting .229--I wonder if they'll talk about the good ol' days.

In Hated Rival News, would-be Brewer trade bait Chris Capuano is now just another guy whose elbow needs watching. And while second baseman Rickie Weeks has been horrible in the field this spring, with a team-high five errors, at least it's deflecting attention from how awful Weeks has been at the plate: 20 strikeouts in 40 AB and a .125 average.

Through it all, the Brewers have gone 14-6 in exhibition play.

We just have to keep repeating:

Spring training records don't mean anything...

Spring training records don't mean anything...

Spring training records don't mean anything...

The Angels (10-6) visit HoHoKam this afternoon at 3:05 to play the Cubs (6-12). The game will be carried on WGN Radio, WGN-TV, mlb.tv and Gameday Audio, but no one will be tuning in, as the world's attention will be focused instead on the University of Illinois' attempt to secure an NCAA Tournament berth.

Carlos Zambrano starts for the fourth time this spring. He's yielded just one earned run and one walk in nine innings--with eight strikeouts.

Among the hitters, Micah Hoffpauir remains the hittingest one we've had--18-for-37 (.486!) with a slugging percentage of .811(!!).

On the other hand, Kosuke Fukudome is getting cranky.

Chicago’s favorite former Chunichi Dragon gets the attention of the New York Times today. The article talks about how Fukudome played shortstop (badly) for his first three years as a pro, and the memory of that evoked this funny, self-deprecating description of what kind of shortstop Fukudome was:

“The kind that caused my pitchers great anxiety.”

(Actually, the comment came through Fukudome’s translator. I guess that means the comment wasn’t self-deprecating...just deprecating.)

Most interesting part of the piece to me was the connection drawn between Fukudome’s move to the outfield and his emergence as a big-time hitter. Fukudome thinks it's no coincidence that the events happened in tandem; says he found playing the outfield "much more relaxing."

If Fukudome struggles early, I hope the right field bleacher creatures at Wrigley give him a break. Otherwise "relaxing" will be the last word he'll use to describe his new home.

Here's a couple of videos sent to me the last few days. The first comes from Rich at Home Run Derby, who emailed me this video of Kosuke Fukudome versus Josh Beckett circa 1997. Maybe we'll see a repeat in October...

The second video is courtesy of one of our readers who wishes to remain nameless. It's a clip of Jim Hendry down in the Dominican Republic watching Felix Pie hit a home run. A rather priceless reaction by Hendry; good to see he's still a fan of the game even though it's his everyday job.

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